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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

The Zodiac, the Zodiac Killer, or simple Zodiac, is the pseudonym of a serial killer who was active in the 1960s in Northern California. 

The Zodiac is known to have murder five victims around the rural, urban, and suburban areas of the San Fransisco Bay Area. He, himself, claimed to have murdered 37 victims, and his name is linked to many cold cases around the West Coast. 

He called himself “the Zodiac” in a bunch of taunting letters he sent to local and regional newspapers to be published— he threatened killings and bombings if his writings weren’t printed in the papers. Some of the letters included cryptograms/ciphers. Out of the four ciphers he made, two of them remain unsolved, and one that was solved took 51 years to do so. 

The Zodiac stopped his written communication around 1974, but the story intrigued many, and it led to an international interest that kept up throughout the years. It was officially marked as “inactive” in 2004, but then in early 2007, it reopened. 

This case is quite famous because it still remains unsolved — or it was until now, sort of. 

There was an independent cold case group, the Case Breakers, that was said to have solved the mystery of the Zodiac Killer. This group claims that they are made up of retired law enforcement officers and military members. 

The group believes that the Zodiac was Gary Frances Poste, a retired Air Force Serviceman and house painter from Groveland, California, who died in 2018 at 80 years old. 

The Case Breakers claimed that they used new physical and forensic evidence and information from eyewitnesses to help them determine the identity of the Zodiac Killer. The group filed court affidavits and was able to secure decades of pictures from the man’s former darkroom while gathering evidence. 

They reached the conclusion that it was Poste because of his photos which show scars on his forehead, similar to the ones seen on the police sketch of the Zodiac. Along with this, they talked to people that knew him. They believed that his name could be found in the anagrams written in the Zodiac’s letters to various newspapers. 

The San Francisco branch of the FBI was asked to comment on the findings of the Case Breakers, and they put out a statement saying that the Zodiac Killer case remains open and that there is no new information available to the public. 

The San Francisco police department put out a statement saying that this was still an open investigation and that nothing can be confirmed as of now — essentially, they put out a similar message as the FBI. 

TLDR: An independent cold case group, the Case Breakers, believed they found the Zodiac Killer, but law enforcement and the FBI say the case remains open and unsolved. 

Mahati Shastry

Columbia Barnard '24

Mahati is a junior at Barnard who is excited to experience the wonder that is NYC. She loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors.